MIAMI – Juan Juan Almeida Garcia, son of one of the commanders of the Cuban Revolution, arrived in the United States seven years after applying to the Cuban government for permission to leave the island for medical treatment.
Almeida Garcia arrived late Thursday at Miami International Airport where he was greeted by wife Consuelo Quesada and daughter Indira, who live in the Florida city.
“In the first place I thank the media, the intervention of the church and also all those who helped in my case,” the 43-year-old attorney told reporters.
Almeida Garcia, son of the late Cuban Vice President Juan Almeida Bosque, plans to spend several days with his family in Miami and then fly to Los Angeles, where he has a doctor’s appointment for treatment.
He suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a rheumatic illness that causes inflammation between the joints of the spinal bones, stiffness of the backbone, loss of mobility and progressive joint deformation.
Almeida Garcia said that his exit permit is temporary so he will be returning to Cuba.
“Five years without seeing him, it’s a unique experience, I can’t describe it,” Indira said after the reunion with her father.
The Cuban government authorized Almeida Garcia’s departure last Tuesday following the mediation of Cuba’s Catholic primate, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
Indira had sent a letter to Ortega asking him to intercede with the island’s government so that her father could travel outside the country.
The Almeida Garcia family and he himself said that since 2003 he had been applying for permission to leave the country.
The attorney went on a hunger strike and made several other protests when he received no answer.
Almeida Garcia is the author of the book “Memorias of a Guerrillero Cubano Desconocido” (Memoirs of an Unknown Cuban Guerrilla), in which he criticizes the island’s communist government. EFE